Karen Read murder trial: A guide to the key players you need to know

DEDHAM, Mass. — The high-profile Karen Read murder case went to trial earlier this month when jury selection began in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham.

Opening statements were delivered in late April with the prosecution and defense addressing jurors. Now, witness testimony is well underway.

Read is charged with running down John O’Keefe, her Boston police officer boyfriend, and leaving him to die in a blizzard in the town of Canton on Jan. 29, 2022. Read’s defense has argued that she is being framed and that O’Keefe was beaten and attacked by a dog inside the home of another Boston police officer.

A buffer zone that includes metal barricades and orange traffic drums has been set up for Read’s trial and no one is allowed to demonstrate with signs within 200 feet of the courthouse.

More than 160 combined witnesses could be called by the prosecution and defense.

The trial is expected to last between 6 and 8 weeks.

Here’s a guide to the key players you need to know as the trial gets underway:

Karen Read (suspect)

Read, 44, of Mansfield, is accused of running down O’Keefe in reverse with her SUV after a night of drinking. The state is using Read’s cracked right taillight as evidence.

Read has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, motor vehicle manslaughter, and leaving the scene of a collision in connection with O’Keefe’s death.

Read’s lawyers claim she is being framed in a massive cover-up, and that feds have been investigating the probe into O’Keefe’s death.

John O’Keefe (victim)

The body of O’Keefe, 46, was discovered during a snowstorm outside a Canton home on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022.

According to the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office, he was taken to the Good Samaritan Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead hours later.

An autopsy lists his cause of death as “blunt impact injuries of the head and hypothermia.”

O’Keefe had been raising his niece and nephew in Canton after their parents passed away.

Boston police officials said O’Keefe was a 16-year veteran of the force who had served in multiple capacities.

Brian Albert (witness)

O’Keefe’s body was discovered during a snowstorm outside the Canton home of another Boston police officer named Brian Albert.

It’s alleged that Albert went to “great lengths to dispose of critical evidence by making sure, Chloe, his family dog of seven years, simply disappeared.”

Albert and his relatives told investigators that O’Keefe never came inside the party, and they never saw him. Some of the party attendees are witnesses for the prosecution.

Greg Henning, an attorney for Albert, said in March that his client does not object to releasing his phone records because he has nothing to hide.

Henning also revealed that he spoke with the US Attorney’s Office for Massachusetts and was given permission to tell the court that Albert is not the target of a federal investigation.

In bodycam footage from Read’s arrest in June 2022, she is heard telling an officer, “You’re aware Brian and Colin Albert beat up him (O’Keefe)? We’re all in on the same joke, right? My taillight was cracked, and John’s face was pulverized.”

Jennifer McCabe (witness)

An FBI analysis of a phone belonging to Albert’s sister-in-law, Jennifer McCabe, determined she searched “hos long to die in cold” at 2:27 a.m., hours before she called 911 to report that O’Keefe’s body had been found outside Albert’s home, Read’s attorneys have alleged.

Lawyers for Read also described one of the responding state troopers as having a “longstanding close familial relationship” with the McCabes and Alberts.

O’Keefe’s niece confirmed Read telling McCabe on the phone that she last saw O’Keefe at a bar on the night of his death, according to prior court proceedings.

Read, McCabe and another witness ended up looking for O’Keefe and finding him near Albert’s home.

McCabe said Read had shown her a cracked right rear taillight on her vehicle before they left to search for O’Keefe.

Michael Proctor (lead detective)

Proctor, a Massachusetts State Police detective, was the lead investigator in the Read case.

The Massachusetts State Police Internal Affairs Unit is investigating Proctor for a potential violation of department policy.

Read’s defense has argued that Proctor was not truthful with his relationship with people he has identified as witnesses in the case.

According to the defense, Proctor admitted this to a federal grand jury.

The defense also says text messages analyzed in the federal investigation revealed that one of the other witnesses offered to buy Proctor a gift when the case against Read was over.

Proctor’s attorney has said his client is cooperating fully with the investigation and “remains steadfast in the integrity of the work he performed investigating the death of Mr. John O’Keefe.”

Brian Higgins

Higgins, an ATF agent, “coaxed” O’Keefe to the Albert house and later destroyed his phone, Read’s defense team has alleged.

A federal investigation found Albert and Higgins spoke by phone at 2:22 a.m., about 3 and a half hours before O’Keefe’s body was discovered, Read’s defense has further alleged.

An attorney for Higgins previously said federal authorities were not targeting him.

Other key players to know

  • Beverly J. Cannone is the judge who presides over the Read trial.
  • Alan Jackson, a former prosecutor and Assistant Head Deputy for the Major Crimes Division at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, is one of two of Read’s lawyers.
  • David Yannetti, a former assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, is Read’s second attorney.
  • Adam Lally, an assistant district attorney in Norfolk County, is the state’s lead prosecutor in the Read case.

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